HARARE – The Covid-19 induced lockdown has eroded household income leading to a subsequent depreciation of consumer buying power for essential commodities, Round 2 findings of the Poverty, Income, Consumption and Expenditure Surveys (PICES) reveal.
Round 2 PICES conducted between August and September compares data findings to a similar survey (Round 1 PICES) carried out in July by ZimStats with support from World Bank and UNICEF.
The survey monitors the impact of Covid-19 on households in Zimbabwe although it has been criticised for having been conducted on a small sample size, which heavily reduces the power of the survey and decreases statistical power. A sample of 1,639 households were interviewed in Round 2 from all the ten provinces as compared to the 1,747 households in Round 1.
Households reported a further reduction in income from wages and non-farm businesses since the Round 1 interviews, although the proportion reporting this was smaller than when this question was asked in Round 1. Among those with a non-farm household business, almost two-thirds stated their incomes dropped since the last interview, and incomes also dropped for 31% of wage earners.
“The drop in income partly reflects a fall in purchasing power due to the depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar in which most incomes are received,” reads part of the ZimStats survey.
A smaller share of households tried to buy basic goods in the second round compared to the first round. “The share trying to buy maize meal fell from 64 to 59 percent, cooking oil from 76% to 70%, and chicken from 67% to 56%,” further reads the survey.
Owing to depressed income, more households were unable to access healthcare during the period under review. “Lack of money was the main reason for not being able to access medical treatment. It was mentioned by 91% of those households unable to access treatment,” stated the ZimStats report.
The number of households facing severe food insecurity has risen over the past years. It was 27% in July up from 7% in May/June in 2019. About 31 percent of rural and 18 percent of urban households faced severe food insecurity, while 75% of rural households and 65% of urban households faced moderate food insecurity in July.
In urban areas, the proportion that received COVID-19 cash transfers rose to 10% from 3% in the first round. Only 1% of rural households received the transfers, which have now been increased from the previous $300.
The number of people with a steady job rose in the period between July and September 2020 to 52% from 51% as economic activity started to pick up following the relaxation of lockdown measures. The proportion of employed urban households rose by 3 percentage points to 64% from 61% in the first round.-Financial Express.